Intention is a powerful tool that can help you bring a sense of purpose and focus to your work. By setting clear and specific goals, you can align your actions with your values and priorities, create a sense of fulfillment and make a measurable impact toward your strategic objectives.
1. Clarify your values and vision
The first step to bringing more intention to your work is clarifying your values & vision.
Working with intention begins with living your values. What is important to you in your life and career? What do you want to achieve? What are your passions and interests? Once you have a clear understanding of your values and priorities, you can set specific, measurable goals that align with them.
For example, if one of your values is creativity, you might set a goal to create a new product or service that will bring joy and inspiration to others. Or, if your priority is to make a difference in your community, you might set a goal to volunteer for a local nonprofit organization or to use your skills to create positive change in your community.
Next, you want to craft your vision. It’s hard to know what direction to take if you haven’t identified where it is you want to go, and having a clear vision for your work will serve as the compass rose by which you’ll determine action steps, measure progress, and evaluate needed shifts.
Ask yourself where you want to be.
What do you want your work or business to look and feel like?
Keep your timeline to a range of 1-3 years. A push to plan longer may end up more aspirational than actionable. Your vision should be a 360° view to help you get clear on every pillar in your work. Don’t be afraid to get personal when crafting your vision. Your work should serve your ability to live the life you want.
Use these questions to get you started:
What do you want your audience to experience when working with you? Think about your marketing and sales process, your persona, and your branding/overall look and vibe.
What do you want to accomplish or make possible through your work?
What boundaries do you need to hold to maintain work life balance? What values will you live through your work?
Do you want/need for your team to grow?
How much do you want to earn? What would earning that amount mean to you?
2. Set clear goals that align with your vision.
Once you have a clear vision, you can set specific and measurable goals that align with it.
An effective way to accomplish this is to begin with brainstorming all of the strategic objectives you want to reach over the next year. List everything you can think of from monetary milestones and offer creation to books you want to read and conferences you’ll attend. Get all of those ideas out in front of you.
The next step is to ruthlessly prune. Ask yourself this critical question - Will these goals bring me closer to realizing my vision?
If the answer is no, explore why and decide whether to delete the objective from your list. Remember, the aim is intention which will ultimately help us to work more effectively toward our goals.
3. Identify your areas of strength and focus on them.
Now that you have a targeted list of strategic objectives, there’s a good chance you still have more on your plate than what you can reasonably accomplish on your own.
As you look over your list of strategic objectives, identify the areas where you can make the greatest impact, your “zone of genius” to center your focus.
Here is a helpful exercise for identifying where you make the biggest impact:
Make a list of all the wins you’ve accomplished in your business.
Make a second list of tasks you complete on a regular basis.
Now, compare - which of the tasks you perform can be tied directly to your wins? Use this data to learn where you can focus your efforts to create more wins.
David Allen reminds us “you can do anything but not everything”.
Understanding where you would benefit from support will help you prioritize how you can begin to delegate. That might look like hiring a systems specialist to help you automate parts of your workflows, talking with your partner about dividing household tasks, or hiring a project manager to help you stay on top of all the moving parts of your business.
4. Develop an effective action plan to reach your goals.
Now let’s put it all together so you know exactly what you should be doing each quarter, month, and week of the year.
Look back at your strategic objectives - prioritize your list based on what will make the biggest impact toward your vision and/or how you’re able to take action based on a logical order of operations.
Be sure to break down your big goals into smaller, manageable tasks. This will make it easier for you to stay focused and motivated as you work towards achieving them. You will also get a more clear picture of exactly how much work you need to plan for meeting your objectives.
For example, one of your objectives may be to build a website for your business. That one objective has a number of milestones that are integral to completing the larger goal. You’ll need to allocate time to write copy, design pages, and test systems.
Now that you have your vision clarified, strategic objectives identified, and tasks outlined, it’s time to craft an action plan.
Intention is particularly important to this part of the process because we must bear in mind that life is more than just work. You’ll need to take into account the time you want to have available for your family, friends, hobbies - maybe you want to take a vacation?
Look at the next three months, what are the strategic objectives that you plan to work on in that time. Map your actions out month by month and week by week. When will you work on specific tasks? Who will be responsible?
Be sure to leave an intentional buffer of time in the schedule for activities outside work (look back at your values for inspiration). It’s better to commit to doing fewer things well. You can always add more to your plate if you feel like you have the bandwidth.
5. Analyze your progress and make changes as needed.
It is important to regularly review your progress and make adjustments to your action plan as needed.
Stay mindful by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and making sure that they align with your goals and values. If you are working on a project and find yourself getting frustrated or overwhelmed, it may be a sign that you need to take a step back and reassess your approach.
By analyzing your forward (and backward) progress, you can identify what is working well and what needs to be improved. This will allow you to make the necessary changes to your action plan, so you can stay on track and achieve your goals.
Ultimately, bringing intention to your work is about reflecting on the values you hold and the vision you want to achieve and taking the steps to work toward those ends. It means setting clear and specific goals, creating a plan of action, being mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. By doing these things, you can create a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction in your work, and in your life.
Claire Crum of Calm Ops helps social enterprise and nonprofit leaders untangle overwhelm by revamping the processes that are key to scaling their organization to achieve their strategic vision for growth. Find Calm Ops on Facebook or contact Claire for more info!
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